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By Salgood Sam AKA Max Douglas, with A.J. Duric and John O'Brien
Published by Spilt Ink; $4.95 USD

Salgood Sam is the nom de plume of Montreal cartoonist Max Douglas, and while A.J. Duric and John O'Brien contribute scripts here for Douglas to illustrate, Douglas's love of drawing impresses me most among the elements of the issue and is the prime appeal of this compelling debut.

is a compact package, smaller in height than standard-sized comics, but packed with 52 pages of stories, sketches and a thoughtful text piece that closes out the issue. I was intrigued from the cover alone, a black and gold image of a cityscape that wraps around to the back cover, where someone is seen drowning in the immensity of it all.

Douglas's drawings of buildings are magnificent things, and thankfully much on display throughout the issue, although not to the detriment of the storytelling. The cartoonist clearly has spent a lot of time in a city environment and has been hugely successful in translating what the weight of all that architecture feels like when pressing down on the people below -- heavy, imposing, all-dominating and yet strangely liberating in its majesty. The two-page spread that occupies pages 8-9, of a character entering a diner on the first floor of a large building, is the most impressive drawing in the issue, and one of the most well-realized images I've seen in a comic this year.

But the art isn't the only reason to recommend . In the story "The Rise and Fall of it All," we meet Elliot, a displaced office worker who, having been replaced by a machine, now spends his days walking the streets of Chicago:

"Now I had grown apart from these people, their buildings, their jobs, their symbols and obsessions. This private privileged scene of theirs. I might have disappeared before their eyes and they would see it and not believe it or care. My time was out, and I was out."

Douglas's art is key in conveying Elliot's relationship to his environment, but it's O'Brien's script that pierces the soul with the profound emptiness that transforms into his new life. Elliot has been dismissed from the world, has become a ghost walking its streets, and is, perhaps for the first time, truly seeing his place in the scheme of things. The story is to be continued in future issues, and is one of the best I've read in comics all year. I can't wait for more.

Douglas turns in a number of other stories here, working in a variety of styles. The one page "A Night at the Bar" is a quick, wordless delight with a surprising sense of place; "Where the Wild Things Went" is a wonderfully-drawn intersection of Douglas's work with a book he loved as a child. A.J. Duric's script for "Helpless" struck me as a bit overblown, but that's offset by Douglas's sublime drawing skills.

Throughout this issue, you can feel Max Douglas's joy in experimenting with line, tone and page design, in a way that is simpatico with other big names of the small press like Tomer Hanuka or Farel Dalrymple. This is the kind of comics I unashamedly love, dense work by a creator following his vision and sharing the journey with his readers. The paper stock, cover design and overall production values show Douglas cares deeply about his work and how it is presented, and it's work worth caring about. is one of the best titles to debut this year, and it could very well change how you think about comics. Grade: 4.5/5

-- Alan David Doane

The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

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